When you meet someone, it takes merely seven seconds for them to judge you based on how you look. Consequently the way you look is important for future relationships – and no one knows this more than today’s Celebrating Women star, image consultant Olwen Shaw.
Now I don’t know about you, but the worlds “image consultant” always brought up visions of Stepford Wives to me, with lots of clones all walking around looking like the person who they consulted.
Thankfully, Kent-based Olwen, 65, isn’t like that. Instead, she’s all about helping women – and men – look as good as they can. She’s certainly never looked anything but faultless whenever we’ve met!
Being midlife, she knows that style is individual and all about YOU, dressing for the lifestyle you have and, more importantly, the body you have, not the body you want. She’s even told me how I can keep wearing my beloved black without it draining me out!
“Helping people develop their image is fascinating,” she says. “Everyone is different; everyone has different lifestyles and different goals in life.”
A change for the change
She’s also passionate about helping women get through menopause. I’ve certainly floundered a bit and started doubting who I am and how people see me. But I’m of the Liz Taylor school of thought when life gets tough: “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.” (Obviously, when I’m going to work the drink has to wait, but the warpaint certainly doesn’t!)
Olwen will be helping women navigate this time this weekend, with a workshop on Managing the Menopause with Confidence at the Charlton Park in Canterbury. It’ll be full of information about what to wear and how, make-up tips and, no doubt, lots of laughs! Menopause is never dull!!
Here, Olwen tells us more about being an image consultant, changing your image as you get older and how to dress with confidence…
How did you become an image consultant?
I was a chartered physiotherapist and lecturer and I’d lost my way style-wise a bit – looking after children and not taking time for myself.
It was at a beach party weekend in Norfolk that I met someone who was an image consultant. I was interested in what she did, especially her work with transgender clients, so I researched options and signed up with Colour me Beautiful.
I’ve loved every moment, but have yet to see a transgender client in all of that time!!!
What role does a woman’s image play in how she ages?
Self-esteem and self-confidence play a huge part in how a woman ages.
The menopause sees many women devastated by self-esteem issues; not only the physical – hot flushes, night sweats, weight gain, loss of libido, vaginal dryness etc etc, – but also brain fog, anxiety, mood swings, joint pains etc etc.
Nor is she always facing this time alone. She may have menstrual daughters and elderly parents needing attention. And as is often the case, she puts herself at the bottom of the care list.
Should we change our image as we get older?
You should be true to yourself, but the best version of yourself!
Do not put yourself down, or talk to yourself as you wouldn’t to a friend or client. Be kind to yourself. Look in the mirror and appreciate the good bits of your body and recognise what it has given you.
Image is about personality and feeling comfortable in your clothes. It is also about having the confidence to push the boat out on occasions and that is where I can help you.
Dressing the body you have, not the one you want, is a pretty good mantra, but we all want to be Iris Apfel sometimes!
How can a woman continue to dress with confidence?
A style consultation will guide you to be confident in dressing the body you have, not the one you want. It’s a bit of smoke and mirrors; highlighting your best bits and drawing attention away from the bits you don’t like.
With these guidelines, you will be able to dress with confidence all the time.
What’s more important to you: being fashionable or stylish?
Stylish every time. Money can buy you fashion, but it can’t buy you style.
Fashion can be tacky; style never is. Style is classy
Gianni Versace said: “Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.”
And I love Karl Lagerfeld: “Trendy is the last stage before tacky.”
What is the most important piece of advice you can give about image and getting older
Many people as they get older lose confidence in the way they dress.
They may have lived a corporate life and retired, so there’s no need for corporate dress and they’re not sure what to do now.
They may have had to give up work in order to look after elderly relatives or other family members.
There are many scenarios facing people as they get older, but it doesn’t mean they have to give up on themselves.
Retirement can often engender feelings of unimportance and this can coincide with Empty Nest Syndrome when your last child has left home.
It is so important to look after yourself during these life transitions.
If you having confidence issues, it can be life changing to speak with an image consultant and book an appointment.
Managing the Menopause with Confidence, Charlton Park, Canterbury, Saturday 14 March, 10am-4pm, covering colour analysis, make-up and style tips. Cost £99.97, including refreshments, light lunch and worksheets, as well as other special offers. Contact [email protected] or tel: 07720 445 600.